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As




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AS, ASSIS, and ASSARIUS.—These were the words used by the Romans, in connection with the subject of money, to denominate an integer, or entire quantity of weight (congeries ponderis, as Eckhel expresses it), divided into twelve parts called unciae. And as they commenced their coinage with brass, so the as was their most ancient money. The synonymes of as or assis were libra, libella, and pondo; the weight of the as money being the same as that of the pound of twelve ounces; and numerous coins are extant not only of the entire as, but also of the parts into which, for monetary purposes, it was divided.
Declining to touch upon numerous details of discussion, contained in the copious pages of controversial antiquaries; and simply referring, for further particulars, to what will be found given in this dictionary, under the head of Brass Coinage, it shall here suffice to assume as certain, that money consisting of brass only began to be fabricated at Rome, if not actually under Servius Tullius, at least soon after that king's death. The principal piece was the as, which constituted the primitive unity of the Roman mint. The earliest known specimens of it are of bulky dimensions; but they were nevertheless unquestionably money. That portion of them, however, which, from their form, size, and weight, come under our acceptation of the word coin, must evidently have been introduced at a much later period.—The brass coinage of Rome first established between the years 550 and 555 before the Christian era (or to take the computed duration of the reign of Servius Tullius, between 578 and 534 years B.C.), consisted, as above stated, of the as, the primary unit, weighing 12 unciae (or ounces), and worth 12 unciae in money. Its multiples and its parts were as follow:—
MULTIPLES.
Dupondius (two as).
Tripondius (three as).
Quadrussis (four as).
Decussis (ten as).
PARTS.
Semis (half of the as, or six unciae).
Quincunx (five unciae).
Triens (third of the as, or four unciae).
Quadrans (fourth of the as, or three unciae).
Sextans (sixth of the as or two unciae)
Uncia (twelfth of the as, or one ounce).
The quincussis (five as, or a quinarius); the Deunx (eleven unciae); Dextans (nine unciae); Bes (eight unciae); Septunx (seven unciae); were monetary fractions, (as M. Hennin observes), which were occasionally used in calculation, but which had no existence as real money.
Some of the above-named brass coins, of early Roman fabric, bear marks, and inscriptions, as well as types, from which a system has been formed for fixing their legal values and their denominations. The following is a descriptive list of them, compiled from Eckhel, Mionnet, Akerman, and Hennin:—
MARKS AND TYPES ON THE ROMAN AS, ITS MULTIPLES AND PARTS.
1. The Decussis, marked X. has for the type of its obverse, the head of Minerva; on the reverse is the prow of a vessel.
2. The Quadrussis exhibits various types, the most common of which is a bull walking. [The pieces have the form of a long square. The specimens in the British Museum 6 3/8 inches by 3 1/2 inches. The heaviest weighs 3 lbs. 12 oz.—See Akermau's Descr. Cat., vol. 1.]
3. The Tripondius, marked III. bears on one side the head of Minerva; on the reverse a ship's prow.
4. The Dupondius is marked II. [Some of these pieces are of Italian origin, and bear the world FELATHRI, in retrograde Etruscan character.] The type of the obverse is Minerva's head, and of the reverse a ship's prow.
5. The As (primitive monetary unit).







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Obv.Head of Janus.
Rev.—Prow of a vessel.
The mark of this money is the sign . But it is not always found on it.—Such pieces mostly exhibit the word ROMA on the reverse side, and many of them bear the names of Roman families.
6. The Semis, exhibits several types; the larger sized ones have a hog, a vase, a Pegasus, a bull, or a wheel, on the obverse side.—The smaller sized and later Semis bears the head of Jupiter laureated. But its distinctive mark is the letter S, or six globules, thus ●●●●●● See the word in S.
7. The Quincunx, has generally a cross on each side, the distinctive mark five globules ●●●●● and the letter V.—See the word in Q.
8. The Triens, bears the head of Minerva, and has four globules ●●●● See the word in T.
9. The Quadrans, presents on its obverse the head of Hercules, and three globules ●●● [Some of these pieces have for their obverse types, a dog, a bull and serpent, with the word ROMA, a man's hand, and a strigil.] See the word in Q.
10 The Sextans has the head of Mercury and its mark in two globules ●● See the word in S.
11. The Uncia, has the mark of a single globule ● [Its type is a pentagon, in the centre of which the globule is placed, or a strigil, or a spear head.] See U.
The reverse type of all the above, except the Quincunx and the Uncia, is the prow of a ship.
But it appears that the as, or libra, among the Romans, was the principle, or basis, of calculation; not only in the matter of weight and of money, but also in measuring liquids, distances, and even in designating the claims of hereditary succesion, with regard to those laws which regulated testamentary dispositions. (See Eckhel, De Asse et ejus partibus, v. p. 4, et seq. for examples of each.)







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